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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Searching for the Oil; BP Gaming the System; Battle over Immigration Reform; Warren Jeffs' Convictions Overturned; Inspiring Tomorrow's Leaders
Aired July 27, 2010 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight: stunning news from the Gulf, the Coast Guard saying it can't find much more oil to collect. With hundreds of boats in the water yesterday, they said they only recovered one barrel's worth of oil -- one barrel.
So, where is the oil? Are the dispersants and Mother Nature breaking it up faster than anyone thought? We will have details in a moment.
We begin, though, with BP, "Keeping Them Honest."
Not a good day for the company, big losses announced, $17 billion in the past quarter alone. Now the company has a new CEO, Bob Dudley, who promises to learn from the spill. But the old CEO, Tony Hayward, apparently he hasn't learned much. He got his life back and more, and $18 million in severance.
But he claims he was demonized in America and said in a call today, a conference call -- quote -- "BP's response to this tragedy has been a model of good social corporate responsibility. It has mounted an unprecedented response."
Well, the response was unprecedented, but of course, so was the size of the spill. So, that is not saying very much. But claiming that BP has been a model of good corporate social responsibility, well, that just seems to fly in the face of the facts.
Let's take a look over here at the wall at just a couple of examples. We kind of picked these, frankly, randomly; there's a lot more.
Now, for weeks, BP underestimated the flow rate of oil, the amount of oil pouring out of that well. They said it was a thousand barrels early on. That's what they claimed. They then reluctantly raised it to 5,000. Then they stuck with that number way after independent scientists said it could be as high as 70,000.
Now, though early on, they could have helped scientists measure the flow, they chose not to. Does that sound like a model of social corporate responsibility? Now, even this video, which we only got to see because members of Congress pressured them to release it, they had it for weeks before we got to see it live. Does that sound like a model of social responsibility?
BP said they were taking responsibility for the cleanup, but, at the same time, they were pointing fingers at others for the accident. Take a look at this.
This is Tony Hayward, May 3rd, said, "This was not our drilling rig. It was not our equipment. It was not our systems, our people or our processes. This was TransOcean's rig, their systems, their people, their equipment."
We have now heard a number of people testifying under oath to Congress and to other places that BP had a problem with its culture of safety; allegations BP demanded workers on the rig get back on schedule, even at the cost of safety. Does that sound like a model of social responsibility?
Now, just this weekend, Ken Feinberg -- Ken Feinberg, who is the man now in charge of the $20 billion compensation fund -- he said that BP is stalling on payments to people in the Gulf, and has not yet deposited any money in that $20 billion fund.
They spent an estimated $50 million on these ads, ads like these. And they give Tony Hayward more than $18 million as a goodbye present, yet the victims of this spill are still waiting for money to pay their rent, their mortgages, their bills. Does that sound like a model of social responsibility?
Tony Hayward, this is what he said today. He said: "Life isn't fair. Sometimes, you step off the pavement and get hit by a bus."
He was talking about what happened to him and his career. This is certainly a lesson, though, the people in the Gulf already know. Life isn't fair. Sometimes, you step off the pavement and get hit by a bus. Or sometimes you wake up and a model of social responsibility dumps oil all over your front yard.
Joining us now is Saint Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro Jr. Also, to talk about the shifting nature of the spill and where the oil is or isn't, Ed Overton, environmental emeritus of environmental studies at Louisiana State University.
Ed, a Coast Guard official says the oil is in its final life cycle, that they aren't finding much oil on the surface, they say. Does this mean that it's gone? Has Mother Nature and the dispersants just broken it up already?
EDWARD OVERTON, LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY: Well, to a large extent.
Remember, the spill stopped about 10 days ago, so, and the Gulf was really acclimated to taking 60,000 barrels a day. So, all of a sudden, you have none, the bacteria are there, and they're degrading -- very rapidly degrading what's left.
So, the amount of oil floating around in the Gulf is going down significantly. That doesn't mean that we're out of the woods. Oil will still be coming ashore for several more weeks, maybe several more months, but it is being degraded very quickly, as is seen by over-flights.
COOPER: So, Ed, if it means it's not on the surface, is there still all that oil in the water column that's just diffused?
OVERTON: Well, I suspect that a lot of this oil is floating near the surface, but right under the water column. The oil that's easy to see that forms a sheen, that's been degraded.
So, the sheen-able oil is gone. And what you have got is globs of oil floating near the surface, just under the surface, hard to see from the air. But it's still there. The tropical weather, I think, broke these globs of oil into much smaller droplets. And the smaller the droplets, the easier it is for the bacteria to degrade it.
So, we're clearly on the downhill slope on this thing. We're not at the end yet, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I think.
COOPER: Craig, are you worried? Are you skeptical that the threat has diminished? Are you worried that they're going to start pulling out equipment?
CRAIG TAFFARO JR., PRESIDENT, SAINT BERNARD PARISH, LOUISIANA: That's exactly what we're seeing now, Anderson.
The real concern is that, when you hear the description and the depiction of how much oil is really left, we have become somewhat desensitized, really. Think about if any amount of spill was discovered without this spill incident being a part of it. There would be a response immediately to an environmental hazard.
But, for some reason, because the numbers are much higher, and now the well is capped -- and by the way, we're very happy about that. We're ecstatic that the well is no longer leaking, but we cannot turn our eyes away from what's in the water.
We're finding new oil every day. Whether the Coast Guard sees it, whether BP sees it or anyone else, we go by what we experience every single day. We're having new oil impact on our marshlands, our on islands, and certainly within our skimming vessels.
COOPER: Ed, at this point, do we know the impact? I mean, can we judge this with some perspective now the impact this has had -- will have on animal life, fish life, marine life, on the oyster beds? I mean, do we know what's happening underneath the water?
OVERTON: Well, we know that the oil is going away. Now, it's still there, as Craig pointed out, and it's still going to be coming ashore for a while.
But the frequency, the quantity will start falling off fairly dramatically. Now, we sure don't need to -- to move the skimmers. We need to be prepared to get it off, because that's where the damage occurs, when it gets onshore.
It's hard to tell what the damage is offshore. There's been any number of estimates. Of course, we can see the porpoises that are dead, the turtles that have been counted, the birds, all of these things. But -- and that -- those kills will start dropping off fairly dramatically in the near future.
The unseen damage is what will be hard to quantitate. And we don't know -- we may not know for a couple of years just how much damage is done to the total ecosystem.
COOPER: So, Ed, I have no doubt that some then are going to hear, well, they had 800 skimmers out and were only able to collect one barrel of oil yesterday. Some folks are going to say, well, look, this thing has been overblown.
Has it been? Was this as bad as scientists said it was or -- going to be early on?
OVERTON: Well, oil spills are acute events. That means that they're just horrible when they're occurring.
But their long-term prognosis is a lot better than a lot of people have said. I mean the past experience with Ixtoc and Exxon Valdez and all the other spills around the world show that it's a horrible acute event and you have avidly demonstrated how ugly an oil spill is.
But the long-term prognosis is not nearly as bad as some people have said. I think we will pretty much be back to normal in two to three years. There will be some environmental indicators that won't come back for some time. But most, 90 percent, 90-plus percent, will return to normal fairly quickly.
And I think, next summer, we will -- we will have a hard time finding a lot of this oil. We will -- we will still not -- the oyster beds, maybe some of the shrimp, will not be back to normal, but in general, our environment will recover. It's amazing how resilient the environment is.
COOPER: But you're saying oyster beds, two to three years, some of them still will not be back to normal?
OVERTON: Well, I think that's the life cycle of going from spuds up to commercial harvest. I suspect that a lot of oysters have been killed by low dissolved oxygen content. All this oil in the water column uses up the oxygen, of course. And so down near the bottom in a lot of these stagnant bays, the oxygen levels just go to zero. And the oysters can't survive that.
COOPER: Right. It takes three years from an oyster going from spawning to actually being harvest size.
Craig, I mean, do you worry that people are going to start to say, well, look, this thing hasn't been as bad as folks down in the Gulf were saying it was?
TAFFARO: Well, Anderson, you know, any type of disaster as it gets over its hump immediately the idea of it's over, claim victory and go away happens as a natural course of disaster response. We have to make sure that we understand that what's happening is, in this part of the disaster, we have an entire culture still at risk.
When you hear Dr. Overton talk about two to three years or even one more season that's lost, that's an entire cultural risk for these fishermen and these commercial families who have been doing this all their lives.
So, this leads us right to the question of, if we can't have our fishermen, who have largely converted to oil spill responders, if they cannot continue to do that and they can't go back to fishing, they are left in no man's land without a claims process that should have long been fixed and being able to take care of these families.
Otherwise, we're going to have emotional problems, family issues, suicide, drinking, and substance abuse. This is a whole package of issues that has yet to be addressed.
COOPER: And it will be two to three years where folks aren't paying attention elsewhere in the country while the people down there are still not having a livelihood.
We have got to go.
Ed Overton, I appreciate your expertise and Craig Taffaro Jr. as well. Thank you both very much.
Let us know what you think. Join the live chat up and running right now at AC360.com.
Up next: a BP well three miles offshore in Alaska, ok? So, it's three miles offshore. But the company is claiming it's not offshore drilling and therefore not subject to tighter offshore regulation. And what may surprise you is that, well, the government agrees with them. How is that possible?
Drew Griffin tonight is "Keeping Them Honest."
And, later, remember those raids on a polygamist compound, the kids being taken off, the leader, Warren Jeffs, arrested, convicted of being an accomplice to rape? Well, today, his conviction was overturned.
Our question, what does this mean for him and his followers? We will talk to Carolyn Jessop, who escaped from the sect, Jeffrey Toobin on why the verdict was overturned, and author Jon Krakauer -- "Crime & Punishment" tonight.
COOPER: We continue our "Keeping Them Honest" reporting.
We have been reporting a lot on BP's safety record, the past explosion in Texas, a leak in the trans-Alaska pipeline it co-manages and, as Drew Griffin reported last night, continuing allegations of safety problems on that pipeline.
So, given that record, you would expect that regulators would be giving BP extra scrutiny when it comes to risky projects. Well, it turns out, BP, with the government's OK, is to about to finish a rig that critics say combines the risk of offshore drilling with the looser regulations and oversight of drilling on dry land.
Drew Griffin tonight is "Keeping Them Honest."
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE UNIT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We are three miles out to sea off the North Slope of Alaska. Take a look down through that fog. That's a drilling rig on a tiny manmade island. BP owns the rig and dumped tons of gravel into the water only 22 feet deep to build up this island. Cost so far? About $1 billion.
BP says with Arctic ice floes, drilling from an island is safer than off a floating rig. But environmentalists claim that tiny island is a clever way of gaming the federal permit system.
Attorney Rebecca Noblin represents one of a half-dozen environmental groups.
REBECCA NOBLIN, ALASKA CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY: If anything were to go wrong, if there were an oil spill, that oil is going into the ocean. It's not on land. So, this really is -- this is drilling in water.
GRIFFIN: That's the heart of the debate. Does putting the massive drill rig on a 32-acre pile of gravel mean BP's Liberty Island project should be subject to federal rules for drilling on land, or should it be subject to the more rigorous rules of offshore drilling?
The fact is, three years ago, BP succeeded in getting a land- based drilling permit. In an e-mail to CNN, a BP spokesman says the company "carefully followed the state and federal permitting systems." And addressing environmentalist complaints, he added, "It's hard to imagine anyone who knows the facts or the history of this project would make such a claim."
(on camera): But after the Gulf oil disaster, federal and state regulators aren't so confident in BP's plans to drill out here on Liberty Island, now are taking another look.
(voice-over): One of the reasons? Environmental groups say MMS approved BP's environmental review in 2008 with minimal changes. We asked the Interior Department for comment, twice in fact. But they declined to answer, only saying -- quote -- "In light of the BP oil spill in the Gulf and new safety requirements, we will be reviewing the adequacy of the current version of the Liberty project's spill plan."
There is something else you should know about this so-called "onshore drilling project." BP's plan calls for drilling two miles under the island, and then going sideways to drill six to eight miles offshore. It's called ultra-extended-reach drilling.
A BP brochure calls the plan -- quote -- "one of the oil and gas industry's most significant technological advances."
The main risk is what's termed a gas kick, undetected methane bubbles in a sideways pipe and, of course, the inability to control a huge oil spill in an already fragile environmental.
NOBLIN: We don't have the ability to deal with it, if anything goes wrong. If there's an oil spill in the Arctic, we just -- there isn't the infrastructure that there is in the Gulf to deal with it. And we're seeing in the Gulf, even when there is infrastructure, when there are people in boats and boom and dispersants and all that sort of thing, they still can't deal with an oil spill.
GRIFFIN: We asked BP for permission to visit Liberty Island, and the answer was no.
(on camera): This is as far as BP would allow us to get to their Liberty Island project. It's a security gate at the Endicott oil field -- no interviews, no tours. BP says it's for security reasons. If you want to actually see what they're doing out in the ocean here, you have to fly.
(voice-over): But we wanted to see the island so we could see what this sideways drilling might mean in this environment. First thing we noticed: Liberty Island is connected via a causeway to another BP operation called Endicott Island. Four years ago, BP was fined because oil and diesel fuel had been dumped into the arctic from Endicott Island.
COOPER: So, now what? I mean, when is BP planning on drilling?
GRIFFIN: They were planning on drilling this year, Anderson, in fact, in just a few months. But in light of the new review of their spill plan, they have pushed that drilling back to 2011.
But, Anderson, they expect to get 40,000 barrels of oil a day out of this ultra-extended drilling. So, don't expect them to wait too much longer.
Drew Griffin, appreciate it, "Keeping Them Honest."
Up next: powerful Democrat Charlie Rangel, political power broker facing big ethics trouble. Is he trying to cut a deal, though, to avoid airing the case in public? Details ahead.
And later: a court about to rule on Arizona's controversial immigration law, the law set to take effect Thursday. We're going to look at why the -- the whole controversy exploded this year and dig deeper on the border fence.
Remember all the talk about building it, a lot of big promises made, a lot of money spent, $2.5 billion, four years gone by? Well, the work is mostly done, but it's probably not what you expect.
We will show you why.
COOPER: "Raw Politics" tonight: Congressman Charlie Rangel looking to make a deal to save his political life. He has served in the House almost 40 years. He now confirms that his lawyers are talking to lawyers for the House Ethics Committee to try to avoid a public hearing Thursday focusing on charges he violated ethics rules.
Want to get the latest now from congressional correspondent Brianna Keilar.
What is going on -- Brianna?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, obviously, Anderson, what we would be seeing on Thursday would be a hugely embarrassing spectacle for this very powerful Democrat, so that is the idea here, cut a deal to avoid that.
And while we certainly don't know all of the potential ethical violations that Rangel is facing, we certainly know some of them and they read like a list. We know that he failed to pay taxes on $70,000 in rental earnings for a villa that he earns in the Dominican Republic. And that's a huge no-no for the guy who at the time was heading up the tax writing committee in the House.
Also, he accepted several rent-controlled apartments in his Harlem apartment building, saving hundreds of dollars in rent per month. He also failed to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets.
And it's really just a litany. We know that he has already been admonished by this very Ethics Committee back in the winter, Anderson, for failing or really accepting corporate-sponsored travel, which is a -- also a very big no-no for members of Congress.
COOPER: Well, the list is extraordinary, especially for the guy who is overseeing tax laws in the United States. How are Republicans handling this?
KEILAR: This is what's so interesting, because, in the past, because -- as you know, this has been going on for almost two years now, this investigation, Republican leaders have pounded Rangel and they have pounded Democrats for their connections to Rangel.
But right now, we're seeing that Republican leaders are very much mum. I asked one Republican aide, what's going on here? And that source told me, you don't need to throw an anvil at a drowning man.
So, what we're seeing Republicans here is Republicans really leaving this to the political wing in the House. And they're targeting vulnerable Democrats in this upcoming election who have accepted campaign contributions from Rangel. And at least a couple of them now, Anderson, have said they are going to give that money to charity.
COOPER: And are Democrats standing behind him?
KEILAR: Right now, there's no widespread call for Rangel to resign. There isn't. But what was really telling today, as reporters were talking to the number-two Democrat in the House, Steny Hoyer, they asked him, should Rangel resign?
And he said, it's up to Mr. Rangel. As you know, Anderson, it's as much about what about you don't say here on Capitol Hill as what do you say. And Mr. Hoyer didn't take that opportunity to really back him up there.
COOPER: It's going to be fascinating to see what happens.
Brianna Keilar, appreciate it.
Let's check on some other stories making news tonight. Tom Foreman has a 360 "Bulletin" -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson.
From the White House on down, U.S. officials are downplaying the leak of more than 75,000 documents about the Afghan war. The Pentagon is still investigating, but officials say they haven't found anything top-secret in those documents yet. President Obama says he's concerned about the disclosure of sensitive information, but that the documents don't shed much new light on the war effort.
NATO says the remains of an American sailor who disappeared last week have been found in Eastern Afghanistan. The search continues for a second sailor. Neither has been publicly identified.
A rare tornado struck a family ranch in Northeastern Montana, leaving two people dead and one seriously injured. Officials there say the deaths will have a devastating effect on the community of about 4,000 people.
And take a look at these gators gathered in southeast Georgia, a feeding frenzy -- look at this --
COOPER: That's crazy.
FOREMAN: -- 300 alligators caught on tape at Stephen C. Foster State Park. The gators have also made a splash on Facebook and YouTube -- nearly 75,000 page views. I don't know what they were feeding on, Anderson.
COOPER: I didn't know gators used Facebook or YouTube.
FOREMAN: I didn't know they did. Apparently, this is one of those flash crowds we have heard about.
COOPER: I feel -- flash crowd gators, that's right.
I feel like they were having a secret meeting, talking about us, and we sort of discovered them.
FOREMAN: You think?
COOPER: I think they were plotting against us. That's my theory.
COOPER: All right, Tom, time now for the "Beat 360" winners, our daily challenge to viewers to come up with a caption better than one that some of our staffers can come up with for a photo that we put on the blog every day; haven't done it for a while.
Tonight's photo: TV personality Michael "The Situation" Sorrentino rings the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. All the folks from "The Jersey Shore" rang the bell. I'm not sure they knew what -- what happens on the Stock Exchange, but they were there.
FOREMAN: That's what they were told.
COOPER: Staff winner tonight is Kirk. His caption is, "Welcome to the New York Schlock Exchange."
Viewer winner is Elizabeth S. from Dallas -- her caption: "The stock market, now, that's a situation even harder than my abs."
That's, for those who don't know, "The Situation" apparently shows off his abs a lot. I caught "Jersey Shore" for the first time -- like, they had a marathon this weekend, and I sadly watched it.
FOREMAN: Yes. Yes.
FOREMAN: We will have to get together and get some popcorn and watch it --
COOPER: Really? If you see one episode, you kind of get the point. They fight. They do other things in the hot tub.
FOREMAN: That's true, I'm afraid, yes.
COOPER: And then they throw up.
All right, Tom. Thanks.
Next on 360: Arizona's immigration law takes effect this weekend. We're going to look at efforts to stop it. Actually, Thursday is the big day.
Also tonight, the fence along Mexico, it took years to build. People have -- politicians have been making promises about this now for years. Billions of dollars has been spent. But is it working? And if not, why not? We're going to show you what we found out.
And later, that secretive polygamist sect, the leader, Warren Jeffs, he got his conviction overturned today; what it means for him, for the polygamist sect and others as well -- coming up.
COOPER: Well, in less than two days, Arizona's new law on immigration, by far the toughest in the nation, will go into effect. It's going to be greeted Thursday with praise from supporters, protests from those who believe the law sanctions racial profiling. While the White House has condemned the measure and is seeking to have it declared unconstitutional, most Americans support it.
Now, whether you're for or against it, there are key factors that fed the firestorm and turned Arizona into the front lines in the immigration battle this year. Tom Foreman joins us again to kind of look back at how it happened -- Tom.
FOREMAN: You know, Anderson, in the early 1990s, the federal government stepped in hard to stop illegal crossings here in California. And what happened was they shifted over here to Arizona. That's where the illegal routes went and ever since there's been growing frustration over there about the feds not finishing the job.
For example, when President Bush failed to push through a bipartisan immigration reform bill in 2007; that's why some in Arizona say they had to act at the state level. And that just added to a whole series of events that happened that made this wildfire grow.
And the first had almost nothing to do with the southwest. It was 9/11. Think about this. This was an event that was carried out by immigrants. And in the weeks immediately afterward, there was a great deal of talk about tighter immigration regulations, especially for people who might be here illegally, and the need to secure borders in places like Arizona.
And second, politics came to call. Think about this. In the 1990s, 2 percent of the electorate was Latino. Now it's 9 percent. Both political parties are furiously competing for their votes, especially in states with big Latino populations like Arizona. And that has pushed this issue, including immigration reform, all the issues that this community might be concerned with, into the limelight further, Anderson.
So those are two big factors.
COOPER: Also, then, obviously, concern over crime, especially most recently the killing of a rancher right on the border; the economy also are big driving forces, as well. I mean, those always -- those issues always come up when illegal immigration is on the table.
FOREMAN: You're absolutely right, Anderson. Let's start with this crime issue. Overall crime in the United States and in Arizona is declining. Make no mistake about that. Illegal immigration appears to be up in Arizona, but stats show violent crime, in particular, is down.
But there have been some high-profile crimes attributed to illegal immigrants or drug runners, which Anderson, we reported on here. That has energized the argument that public safety is being compromised.
And as for the economy, I want you to look at one more factor here that you have to consider about this. If you look at Arizona on the map, it has about 9.5 percent unemployment, the national average. We don't know for sure how many illegal immigrants are here, but this state is home to one of the larger immigrant populations. We know that.
Historically, when Americans worry about their jobs, they often blame immigrants for taking them. And our latest CNN/Opinion Research poll shows the group most worried about illegal immigration is blue- collar white men, meaning the group that's most directly competing with immigrants for low-skill, low-wage labor jobs.
So you can see how all these forces have led many Arizonans and one in four Americans now to say overall they're angry about illegal immigration -- Anderson.
COOPER: Tom, you know, we've heard the promises from politicians for years about making the border safer -- Tom, thank you -- especially about the pledge to build the fence between the U.S. and Mexico, a fence that President Obama and his two predecessors deemed a priority. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We deployed underground sensors, infrared night scopes, encrypted radios. We built miles of new fences, installed thousands of watts of new lighting. There is more to do.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The bill authorizes the construction of hundreds of miles of additional fencing along our southern border.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There may be areas where it makes sense to have some fencing, but for the most part, having Border Patrol, surveillance, deploying effective technology, that's going to be the better approach.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Far from the White House, the Border Fence Project, as it's known, has been plagued with problems and costs billions of dollars. We wanted to take a look at why it's not what many of the border states had hoped for at all.
We sent Gary Tuchman down to the border to find out.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The border fence from the Mexican side. Here in Nogales (ph), Mexico, the Spanish graffiti says, "The fence, a scar on the land." This Arizona sheriff, who strongly supports his state's new immigration law, disagrees with that.
SHERIFF PAUL BABEU, PINAL COUNTY, ARIZONA: It's proven to have worked, but it has to be combined with constant surveillance in those areas, and it does shut down the border.
TUCHMAN: So why does Sheriff Paul Babeu of Pinal County, Arizona, and members of his SWAT team say human smugglers and drug smugglers parade through this desert 80 miles away from the Mexican border every single night, leaving piles of clothes, backpacks and water bottles behind as they plan their escape onto American highways? Because, the sheriff says, the fence needs to be longer and stronger.
He also says his deputies have been handicapped by not being able to ask about people's citizenship. That will change Thursday.
BABEU: So now all across Arizona, where police chiefs have forbid officers from going there, now we have lawful authority that says we shall go there.
TUCHMAN: But people are going to still get past the fence in large numbers, despite the fact U.S. taxpayers have spent $2.5 billion on construction of a new fence, which has taken more than four years to build.
So what's the problem? Well, the fence is probably not what you think. It turns out it only covers about a third of the U.S./Mexican border and there are only plans to build about six miles more. So while it keeps most illegal immigrants out of some areas, particularly urban areas, the rural areas are still very vulnerable.
(on camera): People use ladders, hacksaws, blow torches to get over, through, and under the fence. But there's a lot easier way; just find a portion of land where the fence comes to an end, go under the bar right here and you have easily, successfully and illegally left Mexico.
(voice-over): But most illegal crossings happen nowhere near the new barriers.
(on camera): Despite all you hear about the border fence, this is mostly what you see along the 1,951 miles between the United States and Mexico, just little chain-link fences like this. I'm sitting in Mexico right now. Takes very little ingenuity; just go under the barbed wire, and I'm in the United States, free to go.
(voice-over): The new border fences are white elephants, according to this Arizona congressman. He says if you have a 20-foot fence, people will just get a 21-foot ladder.
REP. RAUL GRIJALVA (D), ARIZONA: I think the wall took $2.5 billion that could have been used technologically, that could have been used for higher security of ports of entry, it could have been used for personnel and diverted it.
TUCHMAN: So why isn't there more wall? You might be surprised to learn there was never supposed to be more wall under this $2.5 billion plan. The border patrol, the topography, sensors and virtual fences were supposed to provide additional protection. In some cases it works; in many others, it doesn't.
Another Arizona sheriff says drug traffickers have abundant incentive to beat the system.
SHERIFF TONY ESTRADA, SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, ARIZONA: You've got a demand and you've got a product, and they're going to get that product to the market.
TUCHMAN: This past May, one of Sheriff Babeu's deputies was shot and wounded in this very same part of the desert 80 miles north of the border, the gunman never captured.
BABEU: This has basically been literally unfettered access by smugglers and illegals.
TUCHMAN: So the sheriff hopes the new law, combined with the new fence, makes his county safer, while others remain angry at the law and regard the fence as a scar on the land.
COOPER: So is it effective at all at keeping criminals -- criminal elements out of the U.S.?
TUCHMAN: In urban areas, it appears it has been effective, Anderson. We're standing right now in downtown Nogales, Arizona. This is the fence. I'm just a few feet away from Mexico. And the police chief here in Nogales says crime is significantly down.
However, the human traffickers, the drug traffickers end up going out to the desert to hatch more sophisticated and dangerous plans to march people and drugs through the hot desert of Mexico, through the hot desert in Arizona.
And that's why we showed you that area where all the clothes and backpacks were. That was 80 miles away. People have been marching for days, 80 miles into the desert, just to get to a point where they can get to a highway. And of course, that's very dangerous and treacherous.
COOPER: Yes. Appreciate it, Gary. Thanks very much.
Tomorrow on 360, are illegal immigrants really doing the jobs that Americans won't? Gary takes a look in the front lines on the border. That's tomorrow, "Battle on the Border", the series continues.
Next on the program, justice and Warren Jeffs: a huge court victory for the convicted polygamist leader. Will he soon go free? The latest from the surprise ruling after the break. We'll talk to Jon Krakauer and Carolyn Jessop and others; Jeff Toobin as well.
COOPER: Warren Jeffs is the self-proclaimed prophet who believes that polygamy is God's will. And tonight, thousands of his followers, who have given up -- well, given up a lot to their jailed leader, are celebrating the stunning decision by the Utah Supreme Court.
Today the judges overturned Jeffs's convictions on charges that he was an accomplice to rape when he allegedly forced a 14-year-old girl to marry her cousin. The court ordered a new trial, saying the instructions given to the jury that convicted him back in 2007 were flawed.
We've covered Jeffs for years. He presides over the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, known as FLDS. The sect has been described as a secret cult.
With us tonight from "Crime and Punishment", Carolyn Jessop; she spent years inside the FLDS before she took her eight kids and fled. She's the author of two books, "Triumph" and "Escape."
Also with us, author Jon Krakauer, whose best seller, "Under the Banner of Heaven", which if you have not read it, is a fascinating account of Mormon fundamentalists who practice polygamy.
And here with me in the studio, senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.
Carolyn, you and your family have personally, you know, felt the wrath of Warren Jeffs. When you heard that his conviction had been overturned, what did you think?
CAROLYN JESSOP, AUTHOR, "ESCAPE" AND "TRIUMPH": It was devastating. And just being involved in that case at the level I was and the victim and what she went through and what she gave up and sacrificed for that case was overwhelming. And it just feels like another level of her being victimized again.
COOPER: Jon, you've investigated Jeffs for your book and the FLDS for years. His lawyers are heralding this as a major victory. You say it's far from it.
JON KRAKAUER, AUTHOR, "UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN": No, no. I mean, Warren was -- he was -- the case was overturned on a technicality. His lawyer stipulated, agreed to all the charges that Warren compelled this woman to marry this -- her first cousin, her older first cousin.
She was 14 years old. She was brutally raped. She had begged Warren before this marriage happened not to make her do it. He knew she'd be brutally raped. He was an accomplice as much as if he had locked the door to the bedroom and tied her to the bed.
And yet the Utah Supreme Court, in its very narrow and unpersuasive interpretation of the law, has overturned that. And it's a terrible blow to Alyssa.
And she's just one of hundreds of victims. And most of them are so intimidated by Warren, he has such control over their lives that they have been afraid to come forward.
Alyssa finally -- finally, the state found someone who had the courage to come forward. She persevered. There were threats against her life, threats against her family. She went through all of that. She had to enter a witness protection program, and she won.
And now the Supreme Court has -- has reversed that. It's a terrible decision. And it will have great repercussions.
COOPER: Jeff, you say you're appalled by it.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I'm not someone who does a lot of trashing of judges. I think judges generally do a good job, do their best.
This opinion, I find a disgrace. I had to read this opinion twice even to understand what they were saying was wrong with these jury instructions. It is the very definition of a technicality. It has nothing to do with his guilt or innocence.
Basically, what they said is that Jeffs had to be in a position of trust -- that's what the statute says -- in order to commit this crime. But they said that the jury had to be instructed that Steve, the 19-year-old so-called husband, he also had to be in a position of trust, and the jury had to be instructed of that.
I don't see why it makes any difference. I don't see why it justified overturning this case. To make this victim, not to mention the state of Utah, redo this case and make her testify again is an appalling, appalling decision.
COOPER: Carolyn, is this still going on? I mean, are underage kids still being married off?
JESSOP: As far as what information that we're getting, that's leaking out, apparently the reports are it's still occurring. It's a strong belief in the FLDS, that if the leadership authorizes an underage marriage that you are not to question this. It is a real tragedy.
COOPER: Because they all -- they went on TV. Remember after that raid, I mean, they suddenly opened up. They had cameras come in. You know, they had people come in on camera, women saying, "Oh, no, this absolutely doesn't happen."
You say -- I mean, that was basically kind of a dog-and-pony show. You're saying you're hearing it's still going on?
JESSOP: Anderson, there was a lady that was on "LARRY KING LIVE" that was also saying that this didn't happen. Her name is Sally Jeffs. Three of her daughters were involved in age -- underage marriages. One man received 75 years for what he had done to her daughter.
And so you can't trust the FLDS. You cannot trust their members. They're not being truthful.
COOPER: Jon, do you believe it's still going on, I mean, underage kids being married off?
KRAKAUER: There's no doubt. I mean, they call it lying for the lord. It's no sin. It's a virtue. If you, you know -- the outside world is an enemy. And if you lie -- they're really good at lying in court. They're not afraid of perjuring themselves. They'll do anything for Warren, and they've been found to lie repeatedly. It's not -- there's no question it's still going on.
COOPER: And there's more serious charges, Jon, for Jeffs in Texas: sexual assault of a minor, right?
KRAKAUER: Right. The one -- the one silver lining in this is if Texas -- if Utah decides not to retry Warren, he will be more quickly extradited to Texas, where he faces very serious charges, much more serious, not as an accomplice to rape but an actual rapist.
And the evidence, in the raid of 2008, they uncovered a treasure trove of evidence, including a tape recording and a transcript of Warren raping a 12-year-old girl. Actually, she had been 11 until 24 days earlier.
She had been forced to marry Jeffs. She was raped in the temple on a special bed. Two of Jeffs's older wives participated in the rape. It was tape recorded. Every grunt and perverted prayer and command to this girl.
And that, and a lot of other evidence is likely to convict Warren, put him behind bars for life -- for four life terms, I think, to face the charges.
TOOBIN: Texas and Utah now have to sort out what's going to happen. It seems likely to me that this decision will scotch this case. This girl -- Alyssa will no longer have to testify. They'll just move the whole operation to Texas and bring those more serious charges there. But --
COOPER: Do you think politics played a role in this, in Utah?
TOOBIN: You know what? I don't know. I mean, I just don't know enough about the Utah Supreme Court.
But, you know, this is a very unusual ground to overturn a conviction. Jury -- jury instructions have to be correct, but judges usually, you know, give trial judges a certain amount of latitude here.
TOOBIN: And given the magnitude of these charges and given the fact that these jury instructions didn't even relate to the core issue in the case, I am bewildered by this decision. And it certainly bears looking into, whether there is some political connection between these judges.
You know, Jon, every time we've sent reporters down -- Gary Tuchman used to go down there a lot and get chased out, basically, because the cops in the tow --, the FLDS basically controlled the town. They controlled the police force. You say it's basically organized crime posing as a religion.
KRAKAUER: Absolutely. That's what it is. I mean -- and the people of Short Creek, the police are getting -- they're ignoring the state of Utah. I mean, they're acting as Warren Jeffs' own private militia. It's very disturbing.
Things are getting -- the people in Short Creek, the loyal followers of Warren, are getting all hinked up by this. They believe, you know, the propaganda about how this shows that Warren is innocent and the state is persecuting him and we should rise up. I mean, it's all -- it's all sort of stirring things up in a very alarming way.
COOPER: Carolyn --
KRAKAUER: And I --
COOPER: Go ahead, Jon. Sorry.
KRAKAUER: I, for one, do not doubt that there may have been a political basis for this decision, given the five members of the -- the five justices on the Supreme Court's close ties to the LDS church and the LDS Church's own concerns with sexual abuse and what this says about, you know, how you can tie someone who compelled the abuse but didn't actually commit the rape, how he can be held accountable. That's -- that's a scary thing for some members high up in the LDS church.
COOPER: Carolyn, how are other former members of the FLDS sect that you were in communication with, I mean, how did they react to this?
JESSOP: I think everybody is just appalled and shocked, quite frankly. Very shocked.
The victim in this case, Lissie (ph), I mean, she's a very strong woman. She's very courageous. I mean, I believe personally that, if this had to go to trial again, she would testify. She would stand up and do the right thing, which is very encouraging.
My bigger fear is for the future victims. After watching what Lissie (ph) went through with this case and what others have gone through to try to get awareness around this subject and what's going on and to stop the crime and the type of support that's been there for the victims is appalling. And I just can see that other victims in the future will not want to go through what Lissie (ph) went through here. And I can't blame them.
COOPER: It is incredible to think that this is going on in the United States of America, that this group basically controls these towns and kind of gets away with -- or for years has gotten away with doing whatever they want.
Jon Krakauer, again, appreciate you being on the program, as always; Carolyn Jessop, as well; and Jeff Toobin, thanks very much.
Coming up: giving underprivileged teens a second chance; it's tonight's "Building up America" program. A unique program where inner city kids go to summer school and learn that it's cool to be smart.
COOPER: well, most kids don't want to be in the classroom, of course, during the summer. That's not the case for a group of African-American teens taking part in an innovative program that's building up America by inspiring them to transform communities.
Allan Chernoff reports.
ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Summer in the city, playing ball, hanging out. Getting in trouble? Not Robert Emmanuel. This 15-year-old from Newark, New Jersey is a W.E.B. DuBois scholar this summer, in a different world 40 miles south on the campus of Princeton University.
The African-American scholar, W.E.B. DuBois wrote, "the most important thing to remember is this, to be ready at any moment to give up what you are for what you might become."
For five weeks, the DuBois Scholars Institute takes promising African-American students from underprivileged backgrounds and mixes them with equally bright black students from wealthier families, bringing more than 50 students to Princeton University, to classrooms where their intellect can blossom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What else are we thinking about as it relates to BP and their obligations?
ROBERT EMMANUEL, W.E.B. DUBOIS SCHOLAR: It really changed my thinking about myself, by bringing out a new me which I thought -- which I never knew was there.
CHERNOFF: The institute is no summer vacation. Classes start at 8:00 and go all day long. There are mid terms, finals, term papers and weekends, they're reserved for field trips and formal study sessions.
Psychology professor Sherl Boone is putting DuBois' "Talented Ten" concept into practice, hoping to develop tomorrow's black leaders by building students' confidence and intellectual skills.
PROF. SHERL BOONE, W.E.B. DUBOIS SCHOLARS' INSTITUTE: Most of the resources had been focused primarily on those who viewed themselves as being more victimized by the conditions of racial discrimination.
DuBois was founded with the hope that we could begin to develop those who I believe have the greatest potential for solving some of the problems that confronted us.
CHERNOFF: Today, Robert's class is studying the BP oil crisis and business ethics.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) I believe that BP should try to involve other oil companies, because they're also affected by this, too.
CHERNOFF: The institute wants these students to remember that they can be leaders who will take on the nation's most challenging problems.
EMMANUEL: Going back to school, I'm more prepared. I feel as though I can do anything in school, I can get straight A's. I can get a 4.5 GPA.
CHERNOFF: Allan Chernoff, CNN, Princeton, New Jersey.
COOPER: That's it for 360. Thanks for watching.
"LARRY KING" starts now.
I'll see you tomorrow night.